We need more concessions from Britain, EU chiefs tell May

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We need more concessions from Britain, EU chiefs tell May
« on: October 09, 2017, 09:08:38 PM »
European Union negotiators have rejected Theresa May’s claim that “the ball is in their court” to make a major concession allowing Brexit transition and trade talks to begin this month.
As the fifth round of Brexit talks began in Brussels today, the European Commission dismissed Mrs May’s warning that it was now up to EU leaders to compromise.
“There is a clear sequencing to these talks and there has been so far no solution found on step one, which is the divorce proceedings,” the commission spokesman said. “So the ball is entirely in the UK court for the rest to happen.”
Speaking in parliament this afternoon, Mrs May called on the EU to match concessions that she offered last month in her Florence speech by opening transition talks.
This week’s round of Brexit negotiations is the last before European leaders meet at a summit on October 19 to decide whether to move on to “scoping” transition arrangements that British businesses are pressing the government for.

Downing Street insisted there had been a “constructive” response to Mrs May’s Florence speech, in which she promised to honour outstanding financial commitments and offered to continue paying in to the EU budget during a two-year transition after Brexit.
The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “The prime minister said after her speech in Florence that the intention was to create momentum. I think we have seen that momentum. The response from the EU and its leaders has been constructive.”
In her Commons statement, Mrs May told MPs she was “optimistic” that she would get a positive response from the remaining 27 member states and vowed to prove the “doomsayers” wrong.
“A new, deep and special partnership between a sovereign United Kingdom and a strong and successful European Union is our ambition and our offer to our European friends,” she said.
“Achieving that partnership will require leadership and flexibility, not just from us but from our friends, the 27 nations of the EU.
“And as we look forward to the next stage, the ball is in their court. But I am optimistic we will receive a positive response.
“Because what we are seeking is not just the best possible deal for us — but also the best possible deal for our European friends too.”
She will acknowledge that “progress will not always be smooth” but will seek to strike a positive note about the Brexit process.
“By approaching these negotiations in a constructive way — in a spirit of friendship and co-operation and with our sights firmly set on the future — I believe we can prove the doomsayers wrong,” she said.
“I believe we can seize the opportunities of this defining moment in the history of our nation.”
Earlier, Boris Johnson condemned his own supporters for briefing against his cabinet colleague Philip Hammond, insisting: “They do not speak for me.”
The foreign secretary said he was “fed up to the back teeth” with Tory MPs attacking Mr Hammond and the prime minister supposedly on his behalf.
His comments, to Tory MPs on a private WhatsApp group, came after one of his backers briefed a newspaper that Mr Johnson would “just say no” if Theresa May tried to move him.
Another said there was a “stench of death” around Downing Street.
In a message this morning to Conservative MPs Mr Johnson claimed he had no idea where the briefings came from and insisted they did not speak for him.
“I am frankly fed up to the back teeth with all this,” he said.
“I do not know who these people are. I do not know if they are really my friends and allies or if they represent some sinister band of imposters.
“I heartily disagree with the sense, tone and spirit of what they are quoted as saying. Whoever they are they do not speak for me.”
Mr Johnson’s remarks came as rightwing Tory MPs called for Mrs May to consider moving or sacking Mr Hammond in any reshuffle.
Several said that she could not move Mr Johnson without also moving the chancellor.
Speaking on the Radio Four Today programme Bernard Jenkin, declined to criticise Mr Hammond directly but said the Treasury had an “institutional mindset” when it came to Brexit.
The Tory Brexiteer and former director of Vote Leave said Mrs May would have wide support if she returned from this month’s EU summit saying the UK had “had enough” of talks.
“The prime minister should use the authority of her office to impose what she wants on the cabinet.”
Mrs May needed to ensure that the UK was ready for a hard Brexit if a good agreement could not be reached, he said. “She will be cheered to the echo if she were to say ‘Look, I’ve had enough of this, we are going to get ready to leave on 2019’,” he said.
“We are going to spend the money we need to be ready to leave in March 2019, but if the European Union wants to come back to the table and talk to us about what kind of relationship they want with us in the long term, then we are ready to talk’.”
Stephen Crabb, the former cabinet minister, warned Mrs May not to rush into any reshuffle and said sacking Mr Johnson would deprive her team of a “formidable player”.
Mr Crabb told BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour that reshuffles were “part and parcel of what party leaders do” but “she shouldn’t do it under external pressure, she should do it at a time of her choosing when the moment is right”.
He said Mr Johnson was “a pretty formidable player — you want all of your best players on the pitch at the same time, playing together as a team”.
Source--Sunday Times

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